K-GenU: Program for reducing unemployment and increasing opportunities for equality

About 500 young people in Kosovo benefited from internships thanks to the Kosovo Generation Unlimited initiative and support from SIDA

Leonora Aliu
13 August 2021

One of the most common challenges the young people face in their final year of graduation from high school or university is pursuing a career and finding a job. Job vacancies usually list work experience as a criterion for employment, and not all young people have the opportunity to benefit from an internship as part of their education in Kosovo.

It often happens that even when young people find an internship, it is not compensated. The youth unemployment rate in Kosovo, according to the Agency of Statistics, stands at over 46%, and this affects the decisions of young people whether to get involved in unpaid internships, despite the need to benefit in terms of work experience.

This is more or less also the opinion of Anita Sejdijaj, a beneficiary of internship through the Kosovo Generation Unlimited initiative which is implemented through the CSR Network in cooperation with a number of partners. In the case of Anita, the internship was at Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo, where a certain number of interns participated through this initiative.

Kosovo is shortlisted together with only 15 countries across the globe to host the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge, which is aimed at creating solutions around the three key pillars of Generation Unlimited: secondary education; skills for learning, employability, and decent work; and empowerment, with a focus on girls.

Anita Sejdijaj, a beneficiary of internship through the Kosovo Generation Unlimited initiative
Anita Sejdijaj, a beneficiary of internship through the Kosovo Generation Unlimited initiative.

Anita started her internship in October 2020, and thanks to the good performance shown during this internship, she has been working as an employee at the Bank’s Procurement Department since January 2021.

“I am extremely grateful to UNICEF, Raiffeisen Bank and CSR. I have benefited a lot from this internship since I realized that many of the theoretical lessons, we attended at the university needed practical experience in order to learn the job as required”, says Anita from Prishtina. “I know that many young people in our country are reluctant when it comes to unpaid work, because in many cases internships are unpaid, but this project offers paid internship and I think it is a very good opportunity for those who are interested”, she further added.

Just like Anita, Valton Maliqi from Ferizaj and Altiana Zogaj from Prishtina also benefited from this initiative. The program has included young people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or skills. In order to establish networking between youth and employers, the UNICEF Office in Kosovo has launched the electronic platform www.kosovogenu.com  whose mission is to provide opportunities for young people to access paid internship opportunities, through platform registration.

The youth registration has also enabled businesses and partner organizations of the initiative to create an overview of youth profiles and, depending on their recruitment needs, to access a register of young people waiting for paid internships. The platform, in addition to improving the access and providing data on quality internships for paid internships, has also developed young people’s skills in the area of job search and potential employers. This has made it possible for some to get involved in internship for the first time, such as the case of Valton Maliqi.

Valton Maliqi, K-GenU beneficiary, employed in the company “OXA Group” after his internship experience
Valton Maliqi, K-GenU beneficiary, employed in the company “OXA Group” after his internship experience

“I saw the announcement on Instagram and immediately applied”, he says. Valton is currently employed in the company “OXA Group” which deals with the production of furniture. “I have completed three months of internship, and since January I have been working here as a staff member”, says the 18-year-old Valton Maliqi, whose task is to paint the furniture after they are ready for sale.

The good thing about the job is that it enables him to continue his education, since he is finishing the last year of the vocational school (car mechanic program) in Ferizaj. A job that enables her to continue her university studies was also found for 20-year old Altiana Zogaj through the KGenu program, who was employed by the company Charlie Broadcasting Content.

“The information on the application was very clear and I was not at all confused. This application was an

opportunity that should never be missed. I was then contacted promptly by the competent people and the application procedure went very smoothly. The suggestion was that the appropriate place was the CBC (Charlie Broadcasting Media) news company, which was also within my field of study at the faculty”, she says.

Altiana says that the internship at CBC has been a huge help to her as she has developed herself in the field she studies - journalism. “Preparation during the internship also made academic theory easier, as I was going through them every day”, she says.

 Altiana Zogaj K-GenU beneficiary, during her internship experience.
Altiana Zogaj K-GenU beneficiary, during her internship experience.

With the strategic support of SIDA, around 500 young people in Kosovo have benefited in 2020 from the “Generation Unlimited” program, implemented by UNICEF in Kosovo in partnership with CSR.

Generation Unlimited is a global initiative which empowers young people and prepares them for the labour market. The program has provided internships for these 500 young people in 57 business entities, with 191 of them already employed. The purpose of the program was to build the capacities of young people and support the recovery of private sector enterprises, central and local level institutions and support the young people in Kosovo who were affected by the challenging period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support school to work transition, UNICEF Office in Kosovo will continue its partnership with public and private institutions to ensure that students and recent graduates that are provided with these opportunities are gaining direct practical experience through the internship programme.